Once again I am veering off the ongoing saga of our story to adopt children through the Broken Foster Care System.
If you’ve already read my Mother’s Day story, you know that our adoptions were finalized in July of 2009.
After the adoptions it took some time for the kids to adjust to the fact that they were in fact adopted, not foster children any longer. Thankfully, our youngest child didn’t know any difference at all. When he would have visitation from his case workers it was just another friend coming over to visit. In reality, I do not believe the next two children (age wise) truly comprehended the difference either, as they were so young when they came to us, as well, that it was more like just a visit with friends when their case workers came over.
However, the oldest two children definitely knew the difference. In fact, I do not believe the reality has set in to this day. They “know” they are adopted, that this is their home, we are a forever family, but what does that really mean to a child who has been cast back and forth within the system all of their lives?
Dealing with the aftermath of things settling down and us finally becoming a family was overwhelming in many ways, yet like a breath of fresh air all at the same time.
Today, we are almost 2 years past the final adoption. Things are the same, yet different. When things would come, and questions were asked we’ve always addressed the questions directly and honestly.
One of the issues we have had with three of the four older children is being destructive. It doesn’t matter what it is, they will destroy it. They have LITERALLY peeled paint right off the wall. They tear up almost every toy they’ve been given. Our youngest daughter destroys her clothing.
At the current time I am removing absolutely everything from their game room with the exception of a couple of plastic buckets of toys. Until I am able to move things around, there is a bookshelf with books, games inside, and just general kid stuff. There is a TV and TV stand. I have already removed the quilt rack, which they destroyed, and the blankets that I had for them to cover up with when they watch TV. I have removed some of the blankets because they were given to them as adoption presents by a local church who makes quilts for each child that is adopted.
I am flat out exhausted from trying to replace things that are broken; caution not to climb on the bookcase because it will fall and either hurt someone really bad or literally kill them; cleaning out broken toys, and other variety of clean up from their destructive behavior.
Our youngest, who I refer to in my writings as “the baby”, just turned 3-years-old. It is amazing to see the difference in his playtime behavior from the other four children.
We learned in our classes to become foster parents that the most formative years is birth to 3 years. That amazed me, since their language skills are not developed, coping skills are not developed, and other things that seem like they would be more important than the first three years.
However, our family is a prime example of how true this is. Our baby- the three-year-old, has been taught from the very beginning how to treat toys, clothing, our home, and how to take care of things in general.
Very recently, after dealing with the aftermath of yet more destruction, my husband made an observation that had never crossed my mind. He said that maybe no one ever taught the other four children how to play! This struck me as odd, since I play with all of them. However, their “most important formative years” were already passed when we got them.
I wonder how much of this truly has an effect on how they treat things now. They see the positive examples, get in trouble when they do destroy things, yet they still do not seem to learn. They still keep repeating the very same behaviors.
So why am I angry, you ask? Because I feel like the system has set my older children up to fail! My husband and I are doing everything we know to do to UNDO the bad parenting that they had by their biological parents, as well as foster parents that did not care and try to RETEACH the PROPER way to play and treat things. This goes beyond just “messy kids”. This goes beyond the “kids will be kids” excuse. It is literally to the point that buying them toys is just a waste of time and money.
This past weekend is a prime example. We took the kids shopping, and I decided to try one more time with new toys. We bought them Lincoln Logs, because they love to build stuff with blocks. They did well the first day. Then, what do you know… the next day, they are in the game room throwing the Lincoln Logs at each other and the window! Now, they had been warned that these were not to be thrown, because throwing things is one of the frequent offenses that they get in trouble for. Oh, I know, all kids throw things. However, there is almost a systematic destructive intent to the actions of at least two of the children. One for certain, the other one has come a long way. (She actually was not involved in throwing things this time, so we are making a little progress!)
There’s a well-known saying in the foster care system, although it is breathed in hushed tones. It reminds me of the scene from “St. Elmo’s Fire” where Wendy’s mom whispers everything that she finds “too horrible to utter”.
So, what is this phrase that is “too horrible to utter”?
Too old too adopt.
This is not true, in the sense that you are never truly “too old” to be adopted. There are adults who have been adopted.
what this simply means is that most people want to adopt a younger child- a baby most preferably.
Our oldest two children were almost “too old” to adopt. I will try to explain this more as I go along, because I do not want this to be misunderstood.
I love ALL of my children very much. And yes, I know all children- biological or not- have issues. I know… kids will be kids. I know all the cliches, true as they may be. However, there is a “magic age” that once passed, it becomes a great deal more difficult to get past the “issues” of being in foster care. That “magic age” is about 5-years-old, give or take a bit.
Our oldest child was 6-years-old when we got her, and 7-years-old once she was finally adopted. She had already learned to “play the system”. However, she met her match with her mommy and daddy! She may have been allowed to play her previous foster families to get her way but it didn’t work that way with us! We were told this is why they (the case worker and therapist) wanted us to meet them, because they both knew needed parents that would be firm yet loving, not push overs as they had previously had.
And yes, before it is suggested, they have been through YEARS of counseling- that did absolutely nothing to help them resolve these issues or help us deal with things. Basically it was just a “system requirement”. Don’t get me wrong- we had a WONDERFUL counselor! But to actually help get to the core matter of the issues it did nothing!
I am angry that the system did not expedite the cases of my older children in a more timely manner so they would have had a more settled life before they did.
I know that this will just make them stronger in the future. I know that challenges grow us.
But that does not make me any less angry.
What makes me the most angry is that in my almost 4 years of being involved in some form of the foster care system, not one single time has an elected official responded to my various correspondences.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit down with a MedicAid investigator about 6 months ago and share some of my experiences and complaints regarding the Medicaid fraud within the foster care system. He was quite intrigued, yet was not very hopeful that anything would ever come of my complaints. I told him I have absolutely no problem testifying in a court of law about our experiences. I am MORE than willing to be the voice, the hands, the feet… the whole BODY in this fight for these children stuck in this broken system of foster care!
Tax payers are being fleeced by doctor’s who prescribe unnecessary medications to children in foster care because it is “easy money”.
My two oldest children were two that fell into the above category. It makes me wonder if the fact that they were being “doped up” has caused lasting affects on them.
I am angry that no one seems to care enough to really get involved.
It makes me angry that even now, in my writing, I have comments directing me how I should leave parts of my story out- whether it is my faith or my political stance.
While I appreciate the input and comments, I can’t change who I am. I won’t change who I am! My faith is one of the most significant facets of who I am! Without my faith I have nothing. Jesus Christ is my Strength.. my very breath that I breathe. There’s no way I can continue in this fight without standing on my faith in Christ. If that offends people, so be it! I accept the fact that there are those who do not have faith in Christ. I don’t try to force my beliefs on them. I don’t ask them to change. I do not say I will not continue fighting this fight with people who do not believe as I do. I will GLADLY join with ANYONE who will join in this fight- a fellow Christian, atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, you name it! So if I’m not requiring that they change for me, why is it being suggested that I leave out this part of my story? I refuse. If that offends some people, so be it! That just makes me angry!
I am just angry! As you can see I am angry about a lot of things! These children do not deserve to have to deal with the burecratic crap that they are being dealt right now! Something should have been dong a LONG time ago to solve these issues!